Luther, Kafka, Euler, Marx, Stendhal, Gibran, Wagner
Can it be that there is a cyclical element in the appearance and disappearance of great men? Over the centuries the year '83 has been marked by the birth or the death ofan unusually large number of outstanding figures whose lives and works have enriched the cultural heritage of mankind.
In this issue of the Unesco Courier we evoke the memory of the prestigious representatives of the "class of '83" who figure on our front cover: Luther, Kafka, Euler, Marx, Stendhal, Gibran and Wagner. All of them have In their different ways helped to form the cultural identity of the peoples from whom they sprang; but they are also figures of universal importance and for this reason we have, in most cases, selected authors to write about them from countries or geocultural areas other than their own. Thus Luther and Kafka are portrayed by two Frenchmen, Jacques-Noël Pérès and Maurice Nadeau, Stendhal by an Englishman, F. W.J. Hemmings, and Wagner by a Japanese, Mamoru Watanabe.
We have made two exceptions to this line ofapproach: no one is better qualified to assess the scientific achievements of Euler than his fellow-countryman Emile A. Fellmann, Secretary of the Euler Committee of the Swiss Society for the Natural Sciences, and only a writer of Arab culture, like Ghali Shukri, could accurately place the Lebanese poet Gibran Khalil Gibran within the context of his time.
The works of Karl Marx, "a body of thought become a world" as they have been aptly described, seemed to demand a two-pronged approach: an examination of the complex and eventful history of the works themselves, presented by Georges Labica, and an assessment, by Nikolai Ivanovich Lapin, of the ideas that have become a powerful socioeconomic force that has helped to shape the political landscape of the world today.
Finally, we take a look at the aims, objectives and achievements of the Tokyo-based United Nations University (UNU) after itsfirst decade of existence. One of the youngest of the United Nations institutions, the UNU is sponsored by the United Nations Organization and Unesco, with whose aims andpreoccupations it has much in common since its task is to organize scholarly collaboration to identify and alleviate "pressing global problems of human survival, development and welfare".